Leonard R. Powell is an associate in the firm’s Litigation Department and a member of the firm’s Indian Law Group. His practice focuses on appellate and trial litigation, including litigation before the United States Supreme Court. As a former elected tribal leader Mr. Powell brings significant experience to the Indian Law Group.
Mr. Powell represents clients in the banking, broadcast television, telecommunications, energy and technology sectors. He advises clients on matters at the intersection of litigation, regulation and enforcement. He has litigated cases involving complex regulatory schemes, statutory interpretation, administrative law issues and federal constitutional claims. His appellate work includes co-authoring half a dozen merits briefs in United States Supreme Court cases, all of which—with the exception of a pending case—have resulted in client wins.
He is an active member of the firm’s Indian law practice. Mr. Powell has represented tribal clients in government investigations, trial court litigation and matters before the United States Supreme Court. During the 2018 Supreme Court Term, Mr. Powell was part of the team that won the case Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., as well as the team that represents the respondent in Carpenter v. Murphy, which is pending. His matters cover a wide range of issues, such as reservation disestablishment, treaty interpretation, state and tribal tax authority in Indian country, gaming rights, tribal sovereign immunity and tribal governance. Mr. Powell was invited to speak at the Federal Bar Association’s annual Indian Law conference in 2018.
Mr. Powell maintains an active pro bono practice. He argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a criminal defendant in a case that presented complicated and novel questions of constitutional law. He has co-authored amicus briefs on behalf of national non-profits that advocate for and represent Native American interests.
Mr. Powell is a citizen of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, a federally recognized tribe in northern California. In 2010, Mr. Powell was elected to the Tribe’s governing body, the Tribal Council. As the youngest council member in the Tribe’s history, he drafted, proposed and voted on tribal laws. Mr. Powell also appointed and directed tribal executive officers and oversaw all operations of the tribal government. In 2012, Mr. Powell was elevated by the Tribal Council to the position of Secretary of the Tribal Council, the Tribe’s third-highest-ranking official.
Mr. Powell received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2016, where he was—to the best of his knowledge—the first citizen of a federally recognized Indian tribe to serve as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, where he was a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar. Immediately after college, Mr. Powell co-produced Bellflower, an independent feature film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.